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Instant reactions: NC State drops overtime loss to Syracuse

Quick takes from N.C. State’s 100-93 overtime loss to Syracuse on Wednesday night:

1) John who?

John Gillon spent a year at Arkansas-Little Rock and three at Colorado State before transferring to Syracuse this year. The 6-foot point guard had played in 117 college basketball games before Wednesday night and never scored 30 points in a game.

Gillon had 43 in Syracuse’s 100-93 overtime win at N.C. State. He was an incredible 9 of 10 from the 3-point line and perfect 14 of 14 from the foul line. Gillon also threw in nine assists for good measure.

He entered the game with an 8.9 scoring average but did have 21 points and 11 assists in Syracuse’s win over Florida State on Saturday. Still, in Syracuse’s first nine ACC games, Gillon was 12 of 38 from the 3-point line. He nearly matched that total on Wednesday.

Crazy to think I’ve seen Steph Curry score 40 points here in an NCAA tournament game (on eight 3s) and Marcus Paige light the place with seven 3s in a half but Gillon’s performance topped them all.

2) Rolling hot, stopped cold

N.C. State couldn’t have played any better than it did in the first 12 minutes of the second half. Dennis Smith Jr. (15 assists) was dealing, Maverick Rowan (31 points) and Terry Henderson (16 points) were both hitting from outside and forward Abdul-Malik Abu was scoring inside.

Smith’s reverse layup at 8:44 gave N.C. State a 75-59 lead. The way N.C. State was rolling, and the way Syracuse wasn’t defending, that looked like the ball game.

But Syracuse used a press to force a few mistakes and then buried a flurry of 3s. The Orange finished 15 of 26 as a team from the 3-point line and a lot of them were open looks. That goes back to N.C. State’s season-long problem of contesting shots.

Gillon’s last 3, with 1.8 seconds left, was actually contested but it was the other clean looks he got which helped Syracuse get back in the game in the first place.

3) Where do you go from here?

N.C. State had contained its ups and downs to a game-by-game basis before Wednesday. They were either good or bad but not both in the same game. In some ways, it’s easier to take blowout losses to North Carolina, Miami and Louisville because you were never in the game.

But this one? This is a stinger. Coach Mark Gottfried was positive again after the loss and maybe there’s a cumulative effect to all the positivity that will keep the players tuned in. Players and coaches react differently to losses than fans.

The problem for N.C. State is the mathematical reality of the situation. At 3-7 in the ACC, the Wolfpack is more than likely going to be playing on Tuesday in the ACC tournament. That’s not good.

There are no gimmes left and they can’t take care of business at home (losing to Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and now Syracuse). That’s not good either.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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